From many perspectives, North-East Asia seems to be the area of paradoxes. The astonishing economic development of the region in the second part of the twentieth century, despite a troubled geopolitical context, is a great example of the peculiar ability of these countries to invent their own way and specific model, apart from Occidental preconceptions. Really few experts predicted the incredible economic growth of communist States, such as China or Vietnam, during this period. On the contrary, many expected these systems not to survive the fall of the Soviet Union, economically as well as politically. Paradoxically enough, post-communist North-East Asian States seem to have strengthen their legitimacy and are now ready to face the challenge of globalization as major actors of this new trend. By many aspects, even the North Korean regime belongs to this category, since it succeeded in perpetuating its peculiar Stalinist-dynastic political system. Even if experts have kept on announcing its collapse since more than twenty years, Pyongyang's regime can be considered as a "success", based on the only criteria of length and stability. This situation clearly highlights the specificity of North-East Asia : apart from the case of Cuba, there is no other place in the world where communism is still alive. However, some may argue that China is no more a real communist State after Deng's reforming period. Even if the economic Chinese system does not seem to be driven by Marxist-Leninist principles anymore, the practice of political power and the framework of the Chinese society remain deeply influenced by the communist motto. As a result, although this particular topic would need to be discussed in depth, we chose not to focus this essay on this controversial point and will therefore consider China as a "post-communist" State throughout our presentation.
[...] Nationalism as a source of political legitimacy: confusion between the Nation, the History and the Party North-Korean nationalism is by far one of the most elaborated attempts to achieve the ideal and essence of nationalism in the whole world. Indeed, the DPRK not only promotes the superiority of the Korean nation (which is close to simple racism and xenophobia in many ways), but also sought to mix the People and the Party as the incarnation of the Nation. Based on this objective, North Korea developed through its propaganda a peculiar rhetoric based on family ties within the population. [...]
[...] Concerning North-Korea, nationalism does not come as a substitute to the orthodox Communist thought, since this State did not soften its communism since its creation, but it contributes to strengthen the ties between the people and the Party, especially in the terrible crisis context the regime fights since the collapse of the Soviet Union. To summarize, Communism needs ideology to survive, and nationalism promotes loyalty, fidelity and mass spirit. Based on these two assertions, the tendency of Communist States to degenerate into nationalistic powers becomes quite clear. [...]
[...] Starting from this peculiar situation, the point of this research paper is to describe and understand this strange synthesis between communism and nationalism in Asia during the late twentieth century. It will particularly focus on two obvious examples of this evolution, through two different levels of analysis. First, nationalism in an orthodox communist State will be highlighted by the study of the North Korean system, including historical background of the country as well as the Juche ideology of self-reliance. Then, modern nationalism in a post-communist State will be studied through the example of the recent revival of nationalism in China. [...]
[...] All these evolutions explain why Chinese authorities felt more and more ill at ease in this new threatening environment. By reaction, a group of scholars and intellectuals, such as Wang Hui or Cui Zhiyuan, started to promote a different approach to Chinese modern identity during the 1990s: the New Left appeared. This term, used by many Chinese commentators, refers to this specific intellectual movement whose ascendancy over the government is growing. Apart from economic and social claims, New Leftists put the emphasis on the need for a specifically Chinese way to modernity, which supposes the reject of the westernization process. [...]
[...] The point of this section is to confront these Chinese specificities with the recent revival of Nationalism in China, in order to enhance the main causes and characteristics of this new trend. Therefore, it will first focus on the differences between China traditional anti-westernization movement and this new version of nationalism; then, it will stress the emergence of the New Left movement as a direct consequence of this new approach; finally, some recent concrete examples will be provided so as to define the concept of Confucian Nationalism. [...]
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